COVID-19

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This is a guide to the things we do know, from scientists, doctors and public health experts — a resource that changes alongside our understanding of this virus.

FAQ:  The Essential Coronavirus FAQ
MAP:  The real-time spread of coronavirus
STATE:  Tracking by State 
HOSPITAL:  Capacity by County

Senate Republican Leader Pushes for Expanded COVID-19 Liability Protections

Apr 1, 2021
People
ILGA.gov

The top Republican in the state Senate has introduced a bill to shield healthcare providers and others from being held responsible for injuries or deaths related to COVID-19 exposure.

Minority Leader Sen. Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods, said Senate Bill 2140 would provide civil liability protection to people working for businesses, manufacturers, schools, institutions of higher education, units of local government and religious institutions.

Updated April 1, 2021 at 2:53 PM ET

Johnson & Johnson is reporting a setback in its effort to produce tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses, saying a contract production plant in Baltimore produced an ingredient that failed quality control tests. The material was made by Emergent BioSolutions, according to Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson said the issue "was identified and addressed with Emergent," adding that it also informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Imagine waking up, brushing your teeth, and quickly swabbing your nose to test for the coronavirus — whether you feel sick or not.

PARIS - Calling the new, faster-spreading variants of the coronavirus "an epidemic within the epidemic," French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday extended a lockdown to the entire country and closed schools through the end of April.

In a televised address to the nation, Macron said a "more dangerous, contagious and deadly" virus surging in France left him no choice.

Report Finds Pandemic Worsened Rural Health Disparities

Mar 31, 2021

A new report from the SIU Medicine School of Population Science, the SIU Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and several other partners examines the ways the pandemic has impacted rural areas.

Sameer Vohra, founding chair of the population science department, said one of the major recurring themes was a lack of broadband access, which increases a sense of isolation when things move to virtual platforms. It also makes it more difficult for people to work, attend school, and use telehealth during a pandemic.

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State of Illinois

Governor Pritzker Wednesday announced Illinois K-12 school districts are receiving seven billion dollars in federal funding to support students as they return to the classroom after distance and hybrid learning due to COVID-19.

New Data Tracker Shows Decline in Small Business as Lawsuits Proceed

Mar 31, 2021
Graph
tracktherecovery.org

Hospitality jobs in Illinois have declined nearly 52 percent since the pandemic began, according to new data, as lawsuits continue against the governor’s orders to close nonessential businesses.

While leisure and hospitality jobs were hit the hardest, the number of small businesses open in Illinois overall has fallen by about 36.5 percent, as of March 20, compared to last January, based on data compiled by Opportunity Insights, a nonprofit group at Harvard University.

Updated March 31, 2021 at 2:29 PM ET

COVID-19 was the third-underlying cause of death in 2020 after heart disease and cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Wednesday.

MUMBAI — India on Wednesday recorded its biggest jump in COVID-19 deaths so far this year, as authorities in worst-hit Mumbai commandeered private hospitals and nursing homes amid an unprecedented wave of coronavirus infections.

Updated March 31, 2021 at 8:17 AM ET

New clinical trials showed that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine elicits "100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in adolescents from 12 to 15 years old, the drug company announced Wednesday. The trial included 2,260 participants; the results are even better than earlier responses from participants ages 16 to 25.

As more Americans get vaccinated, the desire to get back out into the world and enjoy activities again is strong. The idea of so-called vaccine passports is increasingly discussed as a way for those who are vaccinated or negative for the coronavirus to prove they are virus-free, and return to something approaching normalcy.

But there is skepticism in some circles, particularly on the right, about the use of such tools, even though they largely don't exist yet in the United States.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta are among about two dozen world leaders who have signed onto a letter calling for an international agreement to "dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism" as part of an effort to prepare for future pandemics.

However, given a lack of international coordination that has beset the current coronavirus pandemic and an ongoing tussle over vaccine deliveries to combat COVID-19, whether such a treaty could be reached or adhered to is an open question.

Positivity Rate, Hospitalizations Continue to Trend Upward

Mar 29, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

COVID-19 hospitalizations and case positivity rates continued to trend upward Monday, leaving entry into a recently-announced “bridge” phase of reopening uncertain even as the percentage of seniors vaccinated continued to increase.

The COVID-19 case positivity rate was 3.3 percent Monday, having risen for the fourth straight day. It marked a 50 percent increase since March 14.

State and county health departments are partnering with health providers and pharmacies to help administer COVID-19 vaccine. Here is our list for the week of March 29-April 3:

Illinois State University and other public higher education institutions want the Illinois Department of Public Health to require students be vaccinated for COVID-19 if they attend classes in the fall.

Amid growing optimism about the rising pace of vaccinations in the U.S., the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has one request for the American people: Don't act as if the pandemic is over – it's not.

In an emotional plea during the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing on Monday, the CDC chief, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, described a feeling of "impending doom."

"We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope," Walensky said. "But right now, I'm scared."

For many small museums across the country, it's been over a year since their doors have been open to visitors, putting them in the same life-or-death situation as much of the rest of the arts sector.

Some smaller museums have struggled with accessing federal grants. And unlike large institutions, they don't have large endowments and can't fall back on deep reserves.

COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise in the U.S. — and so are coronavirus cases.

After a plateau lasting several weeks, the number of cases is once again on the increase in parts of the country.

New cases, test positivity rates and hospital admissions are creeping upward. An increase in daily COVID-19 deaths is likely to follow, health officials say.

New Yorkers will become the first Americans to try out a new digital pass that shows their vaccination status and COVID-19 test results. It's an effort to help venues open up to larger groups, says New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo announced Friday that the state's health status certification, called the Excelsior Pass, will help New Yorkers voluntarily share vaccination and COVID-19 negative statuses with entertainment venues and other businesses to put the state's economy back on track.

State Authorizes Counties to Expand Vaccine Eligibility Early

Mar 26, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Areas of the state may begin vaccinating those 16 years of age or older earlier than anticipated as vaccine demand slows under current guidelines and COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases see an uptick.

Vaccine eligibility is not set to open statewide until April 12, but in response to an increase in cases, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that local health departments seeing low vaccine demand can expand eligibility to all who are 16 and older. The state also announced the deployment of five mobile teams to combat a surge in northwest Illinois.

Nearly half of U.S. states will have opened COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults by April 15, officials said Friday, putting them weeks ahead of the May 1 deadline that President Biden announced earlier this month.

UPDATE: Settlement Permits Release of Up To 1,200 State Prisoners

Mar 25, 2021

The Illinois Department of Corrections and some elderly and medically vulnerable prisoners seeking early release to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in state prisons reached a settlement Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by the inmates against the department.

Under the settlement, IDOC agreed to “identify and evaluate medically vulnerable prisoners for release through legally available mechanisms.” The settlement also calls for the department to apply good behavior credits to inmates who are eligible for those credits and have at least nine months left on their sentence.

Rutgers University will require students who are enrolling for the 2021 fall semester to show they've received a COVID-19 vaccine. The New Jersey state school says the requirement will help it make "a full return to our pre-pandemic normal" on campus for the next school year.

"Proof of vaccination will be required for all students planning to attend this fall," Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and other university leaders said Thursday in a statement about the new requirement.

Pritzker Vaccinated as Positivity Rate Rises

Mar 24, 2021
People
Capitol News Illinois photo by Jerry Nowicki

Gov. JB Pritzker received a COVID-19 vaccine and briefly took questions from reporters at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Wednesday as the state’s seven-day rolling average COVID-19 positivity rate ticked up to its highest point since Feb. 11.

The 2.8 percent case positivity rate represented an increase of 0.3 percent from the day prior and 0.7 percent from its low of 11 days earlier – a 25 percent increase in that span. There were 1,261 hospital beds in use for COVID-19 as of Tuesday night, roughly level from the day prior but a 14 percent increase since March 12. There were 269 intensive care unit beds in use by COVID-19 patients and 130 ventilators, both near their highs of the month.

Updated March 24, 2021 at 5:57 PM ET

Moncef Slaoui, who led the Trump administration's COVID-19 vaccine development efforts under Operation Warp Speed, has lost his job as chairman of the board at a medical device startup.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is revoking her own plan for a tight national lockdown ahead of the long Easter holiday. The abrupt move comes one day after Merkel announced the lockdown, warning that because of rising infection rates and new coronavirus variants, Germany is facing "a new pandemic."

Merkel called the plan "a mistake" on Wednesday, and she took the blame for the decision in a statement posted by her Christian Democratic Union party.

As more COVID vaccine doses are shipped across the country, our region is seeing an up-tick in clinics being scheduled.

New Report Examines Attitudes Towards Education as Pandemic Continues

Mar 24, 2021
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IL Education Association

The Illinois Education Association, one of the largest teacher unions in the state, on Tuesday released its third annual state of education report examining attitudes towards public education in Illinois.

The poll, conducted by Normington Petts and Next Generation Strategies, surveyed 1,000 different Illinois adults of varying backgrounds and regions of the state by phone or online.

India is seeing a substantial number of coronavirus variants. But it is unclear whether these are contributing to a new surge in cases there.

On Wednesday, India reported 47,262 new cases, the highest jump since November. Coronavirus-related fatalities are also increasing with 275 deaths reported on Wednesday, the most India has seen this year.

WSIU's Steph Whiteside talks with two local doctors about their experience, as the region marks one-year since COVID-19 arrived.

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